By Bond Collective Staff
Social distancing in the workplace is the new norm for businesses large and small — both in the United States and around the world.
As a business owner, you may be wondering how to go about ensuring the health and safety of your employees while still keeping your operations running smoothly and without interruption.
Bond Collective is here to help. In this article, we’ll discuss steps you can take to implement social distancing in the workplace so you, your team, and your customers and clients stay safe during these difficult times.
Tips For Effective Social Distancing In The Workplace
1) Implement Work-From-Home Options
One of the best ways to keep your business running while at the same time ensuring that everyone stays safe is to implement work-from-home options for all your employees.
Granted, this may not be possible for all businesses all the time, but you can use the work-from-home principle in other ways, such as running virtual meetings instead of bringing everyone together in one place.
Get creative with available technology and you’ll find ways to maintain social distancing whether you manage a distributed team or a more traditional, face-to-face team for your business.
2) Encourage Sick Employees To Stay Home
Social distancing in the workplace won’t be as effective if an employee comes to work sick. If your team still reports to the office every day, encourage employees to stay home if they show any symptoms of illness.
This policy, in conjunction with entrance and screening practices (more on this later), will ensure that all the steps you take to prevent the spread of disease are as successful as possible.
3) Modify The Workspace
For teams that still need to report to work and for those businesses that handle customers on a daily basis, modifying the layout of the physical location is the best way to ensure social distancing in the workplace.
For office environments, move desks and alter seating arrangements so that team members stay six or even eight feet from one another.
If moving the furniture isn’t possible, try removing chairs, roping off every other workspace, posting stickers or signs where people should not sit, or otherwise delineating “no-go” space so that employees stay six feet apart at all times.
Similarly, for businesses that rely on walk-in customers, consider allowing more space in aisles and marking the floor with reminders to social distance. The latter is especially useful for places where lines form.
And don’t forget to modify private employee areas such as locker rooms and break rooms so that you can maintain social distancing in the workplace.
4) Use Masks When Social Distancing Isn’t Possible
If social distancing in the workplace simply isn’t possible for your business, consider making masks and other personal protective equipment mandatory.
Masks are an absolute must, but, depending on the type of work your team does, you might also consider adding latex gloves and even face shields for more protection.
If your business increases the frequency of cleaning procedures (more on this later), your employees can maintain six feet of social distancing in the workplace at all times, and they don’t have to interact with customers, masks may not be necessary.
This is a call you will need to make depending on how your team works. Examine their workflow and put precautions in place so that everyone stays safe. And don’t be afraid to add more safeguards if circumstances change.
5) Enforce Social Distancing Policies
Occasionally, you may need to enforce the six-foot rule with your team members. As social beings, your employees are not accustomed to being so far apart all the time and they may drift back together without even realizing it.
This is especially true in common areas such as the kitchen, the lounge, the breakroom, or any place where large groups normally gather.
That said, you may need to take an active role in enforcing six-foot social distancing in the workplace. Don’t be afraid to speak up and remind employees to spread out if you see a group forming.
And encourage them not to take offense if you or someone else speaks up — the social distancing is for their own health and well-being, after all.
6) Disinfect Surfaces Frequently
To prevent the spread of germs on surfaces in your office, increase the frequency with which you clean and disinfect all areas in the workplace — especially common areas including the kitchen, the bathrooms, the elevators, and the lounge.
If your team works in a heavily trafficked workspace with a lot of people coming and going, you may need to clean and disinfect surfaces every few hours to ensure that viruses don't survive.
You may also need to change the chemicals you use so that they’re powerful enough to kill germs on all types of surfaces.
7) Consider Staggering Attendance In The Office
Another excellent way to maintain social distancing in the workplace is to stagger attendance so that the entire team is never in the office at the same time.
One possible scenario is to have half your team work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the other half work Tuesday and Thursday. Another option is to have half your team work mornings and the other half work afternoons.
Talk to your team members and find out what schedule works best for them and will also work for your business.
8) Establish Entrance And Screening Protocols
To keep everyone safe in your office and maintain the effectiveness of social distancing in the workplace, establish entrance and screening protocols for all employees.
As your team members enter the office, check their temperature to ensure they don’t have a fever. Then, throughout the day, recheck their temperature to verify that they haven’t developed a fever since they arrived.
If they have a fever when they arrive or they develop one while at work, you may need to isolate them or send them home to protect the other employees in the building.
9) Create An Emergency Plan
What will you do if someone on your team comes down with a major illness at home? What will you do if they start exhibiting symptoms while at work?
Don’t wait for it to happen and then try to figure out how to react. Create an emergency plan well in advance so that you’ll know exactly what to do in the event of an outbreak in your workplace.
10) Update Policies To Accommodate New Safety Measures
Many of your new policies for social distancing may run contrary to policies you had in place before the pandemic started.
To avoid confusion, take the time to update your policy documentation to accommodate any new safety measures you put in place.
In the case of documenting these changes, you don’t have to delete the old information and write new in its place. Hopefully, at some point, we’ll return to business as usual and you’ll want the old policies in place.
Instead, add the new information under existing subheadings with language stating, “In the event of a pandemic, viral outbreak, or other contamination...”
That way, you have options available for all scenarios and you can switch back and forth as the circumstances dictate.
Bond Collective Puts A Premium On Safety
At Bond Collective, we put the health and safety of our members and guests above all else.
Even during times of pandemic, we know your business still needs to operate. That’s why we’ve implemented new policies and guidelines to prevent the spread of disease.
At all of our Bond Collective locations across the country, we’ve modified the workspaces so your team members remain six-feet apart at all times. We’ve increased the frequency with which we clean and disinfect all public spaces and surfaces.
We’ve made masks mandatory, set up hand sanitizer in all corners of the office, encouraged frequent hand-washing, and even begun monitoring the number of people in a given space to prevent too many people from being too close together.
All of this — and more — so that you and your team can feel safe at work.
To find out more about how we’re making social distancing in the workplace a reality, call or visit any one of Bond Collective’s many locations in the United States, including workspaces in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas.
And while you’re at it, schedule a tour to experience first-hand how the boutique work environments at Bond Collective can benefit your business.